Oct 27, 2021

Dordt Faculty Invest in Open Educational Resources

The Dordt faculty invests in open educational resources

Thanks to a major initiative led by the Iowa Private Academic Libraries (IPAL), five faculty members at Dordt University have been awarded grants to invest in open educational resources (OER). Dordt is one of 15 universities benefitting from the project sponsored by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

Open educational resources are materials that are in the public domain or have been released under an open license, and the IPAL grants compensate faculty for adopting, remixing, or creating open resources. This can include everything from full courses to sections of textbooks, lectures, or assessments.

The five faculty members who received an IPAL grant include Dr. Carl Fictorie, Dr. Michael Janssen, Dr. Kathleen VanTol, Julie Van Otterloo, and Dr. Channon Visscher.

Dr. Visscher, associate professor of chemistry and planetary sciences, and Julie Van Otterloo, instructor of social work, each adopted an open textbook for their courses making free textbooks available to students from the first day of class.

Dr. Janssen, associate professor of mathematics, and Dr. VanTol, professor of education, are each creating new open educational resources for their courses. These new resources will benefit Dordt students and other Iowa Private Universities. Dr. VanTol has also received an additional grant from another organization that will translate her open materials into Spanish.

“One of the things I am excited about is the opportunity to collaborate with students on this project,” says Dr. Kathleen VanTol. “Through the OER grant, I was able to hire a graphic design student at Dordt, Annabelle Vander Kooi. Our hope is that this book becomes a resource for a variety of people who have an interest in special education including both teachers and preservice teachers as well as families and other community members who want to know more about disability-related topics.”

Dr. Fictorie, professor of chemistry, is creating a series of guided inquiry learning activities. These will allow him to customize the content to fit his course goals and match the material to an open-source textbook he has also adopted for the course.

While each project approaches the concept of open educational resources differently, each promises real and lasting benefits for faculty and students alike.

“Open educational resources offer a lot of opportunities for both students and faculty. Students have access to their textbooks from the very first day of class without any cost. Faculty have the opportunity to explore how OER content impacts their teaching,” said Jennifer Breems, director of library services at Dordt. Breems served as one of the project coordinators for the grant.

In the first round of grants, IPAL received 75 applications and awarded 38 grants for a total of $150,010, benefiting institutions of higher education across Iowa. Applications are currently being accepted for a second round of funding through the IPAL OER Project. More information can be found at ipalgroup.org/oer.

The Iowa Private Academic Library (IPAL) consortium was formed in 1977 to facilitate the sharing of information resources among the private academic libraries of Iowa, enhance the availability of information resources to the academic community of Iowa, and more.

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Dordt, located in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review. To learn more, visit dordt.edu.

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